I threw myself into the deep end too, went from 6 or so hellish months deep frying or microwaving nasty packet food, (hardly any of it made on site, just ordered en mass from a place that should be ashamed of itself***), to (thanks Universe/Fate/God depending on your outlook...we cater for all) working as the fourth member of a crew at a 2AA rosette hotel restaurant.
Nothing big, 30 or so covers and around 100 for events, but the expectation to maintain a good handful of awards was high. Chef had also worked at Michelin level, so the menu was a lot to take in at first.
Big step, knowing only what I'd read about, watched, or thrown into shape at home for my housemates and not much else.
To anyone going there, I can tell you that I asked a thousand questions, dropped things, broke a tray of glasses full of desserts (that was a fun time afterwards...cleanup was great), but I worked, I worked & worked, to make up for my endless barrage of why this and what thats.
I tried to incur the favour of my poor little brigade so they'd put up with having to teach me everything by always trying hard to be on time and not tired/hungover, I can remember being properly late only once- when a tanker spilled & I got chewed up & had to detour about 15 miles around country lanes to avoid the traffic.
I got jibed for hours by the other two chefs that were in.... until the radio news report gave a nice little update of the spilled tanker and how traffic was finally moving.... that was a smug day ;)
I also crashed my car rushing to get over to meet friends after having to work late (for people who arrived juuust before close, don't you just love those folks sometimes eh...) and I live 9 miles through winding hills from work.... so on a the huge paychecks we all get I had to beg lifts from family (friends live 20 miles out) and more than a few nights pay for a taxi home, the fare of which came to more than I had earned that night, and would earn for some of the next day. That was tough, waving goodbye to every penny, but keeping the job was everything to me, and it paid off big time in the long run.
The way I see it, if you want to be spoon fed the knowledge and know how by good chefs and have them put up with you quite literally bleating in their ear half the time then you'd better commit to the job hard. Bye bye friends, bye bye energetic free time, and (for me and my bad driving anyway) bye bye anything material to show for it.
But I tell you, I was in so far over my head that I couldn't even see the sky (or maybe that was just from forever being inside those four white walls..?), I didn't know how to make pasta, I could only make terrible bread (having never even used fresh yeast before) and my sauces at home barely amounted to deglazing the meat pan (which in itself is such a treat to know about and not to be sniffed at). I was lucky to land in with great people though, and I learned quickly. (Working in a fast paced fast food type venue on a busy road beforehand all summer helped me a huge amount with my speed).
15 months in and the Head Chef from one of our sister venues came over to work recently, he's been in the game 25 years (still standing!) and has worked in big London Town, and guess what..? I have a question every time he makes anything I haven't seen before, and most of the time when I see him do something that I've made before.... but aye, if you can learn from someone else's way, why not?
---Everyone has a limit though, don't make them stab you, i.e. don't ask when they're busy or it's busy or 2 mins before clock out. I claim no responsibility for any readers of this post being locked in the freezer for asking the same thing over, or for bleating non stop or for whatever other question related annoyance that may arise ----
*** Anyone else have buy in bbq sauce that melted through the plastic tubs if microwaved for over 5 minutes? Never touched that stuff again, it was delicious though so that was a hard ask.. but I wonder what the hell was in it?!
Edited by PassTheGravy - 1/9/14 at 6:19pm